At the end of 2017, people of the internet began to notice that there were longer meta descriptions in the Google SERP. Search snippets were nearly double the previous character limit. This had been a minor topic of discussion since 2015. However, since then, more and more sightings of longer meta descriptions are popping up.
In December 2017, Google confirmed that it is allowing more characters in the meta description. The standard maximum character count for meta descriptions used to be 160. Many marketers have now reported seeing meta descriptions in the SERP that are between 230 and 320 characters in length.
How Long Should Your Meta Description Be?
If you set your meta description to distinctly fit within the 155-character limit (as many marketers did), you may now be at a disadvantage. It appears that Google is still often choosing to display many of the pre-set meta descriptions that marketers had previously implemented. This can be a detriment when compared to the increased number of characters that are displayed for other web pages.
So, what rules should you follow? Moz suggests a new search snippet character limit of around 300 characters. Google has previously stated that meta descriptions do not directly impact keyword rankings; instead, meta descriptions influence click-through-rate. Click-through-rate can influence keyword ranking signals. That is why we will be testing both click-through-rate or keyword rankings to see how these numbers change.
Test, Test, and Test Again
At Clicks and Clients, we plan to test lengthening the meta descriptions of a sample of pages on this website to a maximum of 320 characters in order to reveal two things:
- The number of characters that Google displays with the new meta description
- If lengthened meta descriptions increase or decrease click-through-rate and keyword rankings more than the control pages on the site
The same guidelines that have been in place for meta descriptions still apply and should continue to be followed. These guidelines for meta descriptions indicate that marketers should provide a concise, human-readable summary of each page’s content, and differ from page to page. But, like with many other changes in the digital marketing world, trial and error can help you nail down some answers. Don’t be afraid to test your own theories and figure out what works best for you.
Have questions about the new meta description rules or other SEO-related tasks? Get in touch with our team today.